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Worried about COVID-19 uptick, officials say ‘follow the rules’

Staff Writer
Published: 7/29/2020 4:02:53 PM

As residents take their summer vacations, public health officials are reminding residents to “not become lax” about wearing masks and social distancing.

“As people go to these hotspots, the chances of bringing COVID back to us are higher,” said Jennifer Hoffman, chair of the Greenfield Board of Health.

In Greenfield, she said, there are “cluster events” — or what public health officials refer to as small groups of infected individuals who can be traced to the same source — that have been identified and controlled.

“That’s why I’m saying people need to be diligent on social distancing and wearing their masks,” Hoffman said.

Lisa White, a public health nurse for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ Cooperative Public Health Service, said she and other public health officials are “definitely concerned” about seeing an uptick in cases as people start to get outdoors more and plan summer vacations.

“We want people to stay the course and watch their distance, wear masks and wash their hands,” she said. “It’s really going to be the most important front-line step to keeping the … rate of illness low.”

White declined to share case numbers for individual towns, explaining that the numbers often require further distinction in terms of whether the positive test result is the result of a former infection or a current one.

“I think it’s better to stay with the whole picture number,” White said.

As of July 28, the most recent available data, Franklin County has seen a cumulative total of 398 cases to date, as reported on the state Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. According to FRCOG’s COVID-19 dashboard, that’s up from 390 cumulative cases as of July 22.

In Greenfield, in particular, there have been 211 confirmed cases to date, according to Hoffman.

Public health officials are continuing with contact tracing work in an effort to control the spread, White said. She added that state agencies are also emphasizing the importance of getting the flu shot this year.

“We’re doing our part on our end,” White said. “We typically hold about a dozen flu clinics in a year. We’re thinking about the format, … being COVID safe.”

Drive-in flu clinics are being considered for the fall.

Hoffman added that she’s beginning to see people social distancing less and not wearing masks — two things she emphasized are key to reducing the spread of the virus.

“The more people do now, the quicker we can get rid of COVID,” she said. “Just follow the rules.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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